How to Eliminate Sports Ticket Scalping

Be the Spark Email***The following is a guest article by occassional SIN writer Dick Knotts. His opinions are his alone and are not necessarily those of this website or its contributors.***

Since the NFL season is finally over, I’m going to take some time away from gambling to write a few articles about “sports related things” that really piss me off. Sound good to you? Great. Let’s kick off this ground-breaking journalistic endeavour with every fan’s biggest gripe: ticket scalpers.

Sure there have been a few advancements on eliminating scalpers thanks to Ticketmaster’s Verified Resale program, which is a simple transfer of wealth from the degenerates hanging out at your local sports stadium to the faceless corporation of Ticketmaster. Who by the way, are the main reason most of your tickets are so damn expensive in the first place. It’s too bad the internet wasn’t as popular in 1995 when Pearl Jam tried to take down these godless bastards in court – it’s hard not to conclude that Twitter could have helped things out with a good boycott and firestorm of social media outrage. When buying my Pearl Jam tickets for Quebec City two years ago on the Ticketmaster website I actually hung my head in sorrow thinking about “what could have been”. Vedder and the boys had been soundly defeated, (as was every music fan in North America).

So let’s get to exactly what can be done about the disgusting “secondary ticket market“, (such a beautiful official-sounding term, by the way). Well, why don’t we take our queue from one of heavy metal’s greatest bands, Iron Maiden. That’s right – the same guys who brought us “Number of the Beast” are bringing affordable ticketing solutions to you and your family.

Pearl Jam Testifying Against TicketmasterYou see, when they played at Montreal’s Bell Centre a few years ago all of the floor seats were electronic and could only be accessed if you had the credit card used to purchase them. You simply stuck your card in the machine, got a green light, received a wristband, and then went through their “Human Groping Machine” that is Bell Centre Security. Sure it took more time to get into the venue but there was something very nice about knowing that everyone in that lineup was a true fan and hadn’t been gouged for their floor tickets. (To be fair, more and more acts are starting to use this method for their shows, U2 last summer in Toronto, for example. Also, I have no idea if Maiden were the first ones to come up with the idea.)

So, can anyone guess what my GREAT idea is for combating scalping at sporting events? That’s right!! Teams should only sell tickets that can be accessed at the stadium by the credit card that was used to purchase them. Wow! That was really faqing hard to come up with, wasn’t it? We’ve had the technology for years!

Simply bring your ID card and the credit card used to purchase. Stick your credit card in the usher’s handheld device. He gets a green light. You go inside and take your seats, (don’t forget to buy a few $13 beers on your way!).

Now I can hear you asking, “What about the normal, honest people who buy tickets but then genuinely can’t go to the game?” Easy. You set up a huge online form for both the ticket giver and the ticket receiver to fill out. Tons of questions and it takes at least 20 minutes to complete. It’s filled with personal information that both parties can access like address and phone number. The information is ultimately verified and logged indefinitely by the stadium.

Why make them go through all this? Simple: scalpers would never do it – they don’t want their information given to others. They avoid humanity, live under bridges, and hate direct sunlight. Plus the stadium would (hopefully) wise up after “Bobby Buttnutt” or whoever transferred hundreds of sets of tickets over the season – obviously he’s a scalper. But do you know who doesn’t mind sharing this information? Family, friends, neighbours, or anyone else who would be close enough to someone to legitimately be given tickets by them. Can’t find someone close to you to buy the tickets? Tough titty. Eat them. It’s for the greater good.

And yes I realize that many sports teams are kept afloat by corporate revenue so feel free to keep the current system for all of the luxury suites and a few lower bowl tickets, if you want, (keeping in mind that your fans will eventually want to know what those numbers are).

That’s it, that’s all – the scalper problem is solved forever.

Thank you and goodnight.

Actually, here’s a little more information about our local situation for anyone who’s interested…

Buying Scalped Tickets in Montreal

I don’t know how it works in other cities but here’s what goes down at Montréal Canadiens games at the Bell Centre. You want to take your son to a hockey game but it was sold out months ago so you decide to take your chances of buying tickets outside the stadium. Regardless of the outcome your son needs to learn about disappointment at an early age anyway – it’s your job to prepare him for what he’s going to constantly experience in adulthood.

Ticket ScalperYou arrive at a drab block of concrete that’s sandwiched between a gas station, a highway, a condo tower, and a chain restaurant called Madison’s that desperately wants to be considered “fine dining”, (never going to happen). Then you start to hear the familiar call of, “TICKETS… TICKETS… BILLETS… BILLETS,” from a ragtag group of scalpers whose looks range from “really trying to get my life back together after attending 5 consecutive AA meetings” to “guy who you swear is the same older dude from high school who sold you the really good hashish that made you fall off your couch and stare at the bottom of the coffee table for 3 hours.” Denim jackets, fleece sweaters, and shabby tuques are their uniform of choice.

It is exactly at this moment when you realize that you’re about to do business with someone who you wouldn’t wait 5 extra seconds to hold open a door for at a roadside Burger King, let alone trust as the gatekeeper for your special evening of entertainment. Someone named “Fat Joe” or “Donnie K” or whoeverdafaq is now controlling your son’s childhood memories and as a result, your total worth as a father and provider. Sounds fun, eh!?!

You approach him and ask how much for 2 tickets in the lower bowl, “Uh!?! Lower bowl!?!? They’re hot tonight bud. But I can give them to you for $500 each.” You then politely respond that you’re not a tourist, “What? They’re hot tonight bud. Look around. No one’s got lower bowls. LOOK. AT. THESE. Two sections away from centre ice, 18 rows up!!” He then turns his back on you and walks away. “TICKETS… TICKETS… BILLETS… BILLETS…”

The tears in your son’s eyes start to form. His lip quivers. Your heart breaks. You realize that you’re getting screwed over because the scalper knows that you’re with your son and therefore willing to pay whatever it costs. What a great start to your night of NHL hockey!

So you follow this human equivalent of a packet of KFC creamy buffalo sauce and offer $400 for the pair, “What?! You must be joking!?! I told you. These are HOT bud. They’re playing the Capitals! Ovechkin’s in town! Go talk to someone else.” You’ve had enough. You turn to go find some other enterprising young capitalist to do your business with but the Creamy Buffalo immediately grabs your arm, “Ok. Ok. I want to go home. $575 for the pair.” You decline, “FINE. $550 and that’s the best I can do.” The crowd is thinning. The anthems are about to start. You cough over 75% of the price of a new large screen HD television so your son can tell his friends tomorrow that he was at the game. Go Habs go.

SIDE NOTE: Yes I’m aware that Stubhub exists and removes the necessity of the above interactions but the prices are even worse on there and in USD so you really pay through the nose. It genuinely sucks to get gouged before you even walk in the damn door…especially when you know how much you’re going to be paying for their terrible food and over-priced beverages. Take it away Andre Mainville from TripAdvisor…

Ok so you could go to the Montreal Pool Room for the best steamies AND to a Habs game for the best toasties.

Not anymore. They are so focussed on serving up a 10$ dog that they forgot that it actually had to be good.

Cold sausage, cardboard bun and staring down a seller that would rather be visiting a funeral than serve you.

Miserable…

Come on guys if you are going to rip us off, make the 32cent product taste good.

Thanks, Andre. Moving on…

There’s a dirty little “not-so-secret” fact that the Montréal Canadiens are one of the many sports teams in North America who do not actively try to combat ticket scalpers. Why? Because they want the guaranteed revenue up front – a bird in the hand as it were. They set the price of the tickets in July and then sell 98% of the seats in August, and therefore they’ve made as much (legit) income as they could at the gate. Their stomachs are full and bloated so they don’t give a shit what happens to you and your family outside their doors on Avenue des-Canadiens-de-Montréal. You should’ve been luckier when you tried to buy tickets online during the 5 seconds that they were actually on sale, loser. Sucks to be you.

Geoff Molson GesturingBut what can we do?!?” cry out team owner Geoff Molson and his brothers Andrew and Justin, “We only own the team, the ticketing company, the building, and most of the land surrounding it. We’re powerless!!” Well, read above, dipshits – change your policy so that you have to show the credit card used to purchase the tickets to get in the building. I believe experts refer to it as a “ticketless entry system”. And if you really want to go the extra mile for your “valued” fans, why don’t you hire police to arrest anyone scalping outside? After a few games wouldn’t it all be cleaned up? Oh right – you don’t care if it’s cleaned up. You just want the guaranteed revenue from these meatballs at the beginning of the season. Cool.

But to be fair to the police, shockingly, ticket scalping isn’t really illegal in Montréal. Quel dommage!

Do the Montreal Canadiens care about their fans?

Now we get to the part of the story where I tell you what finally made me snap and take the time to write this today… I received an email from the Montreal Canadiens with a very exciting offer

“Ticket holds have been released and are now available!!”

Woooowww. WTF!!??!? This is totally my lucky day!! Wait a sec. What dafaq is a “ticket hold“?

Why were tickets on hold? Who was holding them? Why were they even allowed to hold them in the first place? Ooooohhhh they’re from Montreal Canadiens season ticket holders who don’t want to go see a team in the middle of February that’s 4 spots out of last place!! Gotcha. Well neither do I. Nice try.

Eddie Creamy Buffalo SauceSo take your AVAILABLE RELEASED TICKETS, walk through the box office doors, and use them to wipe the snot from the noses of the scalpers outside your building who never seem to carry kleenex on them even though they work outside for extended periods of time in the world’s coldest city.

The ultimate insult was that this email began with one of the most cringeworthy taglines I’d ever seen: “Be the spark“. Huh? You want me to be the spark for what exactly? The Habs are currently 31 points out of first place and 13 points out of a playoff spot. What kind of a spark do you think I can provide this team during their Monday night matchup with the 6th place Philadelphia Flyers? You going to let me spark the fuse to a string of Chinese firecrackers so I can wake up this team of bozos who’ve been napping since mid-November? Ya – I didn’t think so. Piss off.

Maybe I could be a spark to the Canadiens and the Bell Center in other ways…

  • A spark for you to lower the price of beer from $13 a can to something more reasonable?
  • A spark to get someone to mop up the puddles of urine in your washrooms mid-event?
  • A spark for an inquiry into the rancid food that’s dished out in the Desjardin Section?
  • A spark for a reversal on your policy forbidding people to go outside and smoke?
  • A spark to have you ban your event tickets from being sold on Stubhub?

Actually, you know what? I’ll just settle for being the spark that ignites your fanbase to demand a change to your ticketing system. What’s good for the fans of Iron Maiden is good for the fans of the Montreal Canadiens….as well as the fans of every other team in every other sport. This isn’t hard, people.

So if you’re reading this and you want to help get the movement for fair sports ticketing rolling, call your local team today and tell them to change their policies and adopt the “credit card used to purchase ticketing system“. They won’t listen? Call your senator and file a complaint. They won’t answer? Sit on your couch and bitch about it on Twitter. Come on…

BE THE SPARK.

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